Isobel Easton and Peter Oliver

Isobel was born on 27 December 1792 in Lilliesleaf, Roxburgh, Scotland, the daughter of James Easton and Agnes Thomson.1 Isobel has also been referred to as Isabel, and as Isabella. A proclamation of marriage for Isobel Easton and Peter Oliver was issued on 22 December 1818 in Lilliesleaf, Roxburgh, Scotland.2

The Lilliesleaf Marriage Registration

The Lilliesleaf Marriage Registration
General Records Office of Scotland

A second marriage proclamation was also issued for Isobel (this time as Isabella) and Peter for the location of Cavers, Roxburghshire, Scotland on 7 February 1819.3 The proclamations were for the same event as such public announcements were requirements at the time in Scotland prior to a couple being considered married. Banns as they were called would be announced two or three times prior to the actual marriage to allow any objections to be lodged against them. The two locations represent the local parishes for both couples, Isabella being from Lilliesleaf and Peter from Cavers.

The Cavers Marriage Registration

The Cavers Marriage Registration
General Records Office of Scotland

Peter Oliver was born some-time around 1781 to 1782, according to his own later testimony in Southdean, Roxburgh, Scotland. That date of birth is calculated from his age stated on other occasions:

  • Age 46 in 1827/28 when he was tried for sheepstealing
  • Age 79 in 1859 when he died (the informant for this event was Peter’s son James)

The only potential match for Peter’s birth family from the Scotland’s People website is the Peter Oliver born to James Oliver and Jean Armstrong in Castleton, Roxburgh. He was baptized on 30 September 1786.4

Following their marriage Peter and Isobel had three children, all born in Scotland but apparently not registered. No relevant birth or baptism registrations have been found in the General Records Office of Scotland.

  • Agnes Nancy Oliver was born about 1819 in Scotland.
  • Isabella Oliver was born about 1822 in Scotland.
  • Peter Oliver was born about 1825 in Scotland.

The birth dates for the children have been derived from their stated ages on other occasions.

On 2 July 1827 Peter Oliver was indicted at Edinburgh, Scotland for sheep stealing. Prior to that on 30 May 1826 the following letter from Archibald Scott, the Procurator Fiscal of Court to the Sheriff of Edinburghshire

I Humbly Sheweth

That on the night betwixt Sunday the 21st and Monday the 22nd day of May current ten hog Sheep of the Cheviot breed were stolen from a field, part of the farm of Crichton Moss in the parish of Crichton and County of Edinburgh in possession of William Chisholm, Farmer there, and three of them have since been found in a field in the neighbourhood of Fushie Bridge, but the remaining seven are still amissing.

That from information received and circumstances discovered it appears that Peter Oliver, a Flesher in Edinburgh, is guilty of the said crime, actor or art and part, and it is likely that the said seven sheep may still be found in his possession or one or other of the Fleshers in this City, or the skins of them in the premises of one or other of the Skinners in this City, and in order that search may be made, the present application to your Lordship is made.

May it therefore please your Lordship to grant warrant to Officers of court to apprehend the said Peter Oliver and bring him before you for examination respecting the premises, and therefore to incarcerate him in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh therein to remain until liberated in due course of law. As also to grant warrant to cite for precognition all persons it may be found necessary to examine. Further to grant warrant to search the premises of the different Fleshers and Skinners in and around Edinburgh, as also all suspicious places where it is likely the said seven sheep or their skins may be found, and to secure all or any part of them so found, and grant warrant to apprehend all persons in whose custody all or any part of the said stolen property may be found and to bring before you for examination respecting the premises, or do otherwise as may seem meet. According to Justice

(Signed) Arch. Scott, P.F.

This reply was sent:

Edinburgh 30 May 1826 The Sheriff Substitute, having considered this Petition, Grant warrant to Officers of Court to apprehend the therein named and designed Peter Oliver and bring him before him for examination and to search and to cite for precognition, all as craved.

(Signed) G. Tait

So Peter was arrested and indicted for stealing seven sheep, with the indictment reading.

Intran | Peter Oliver, Flesher, present prisoner in the tollbooth of Edinburgh, Pannel.5

Indicted and accused at the instance of Sir William Rae of Saint Catharines Baronet, His Majesty’s Advocate for his Majesty’s interest of the crime of Sheepstealing in manner mentioned in the Indictment raised thereanent Bearing6

Indictment | That albeit by the laws of this and every other well governed realm Theft especially Sheepstealing is a crime of a heinous nature and severely punishable: Yet true it is and of verity that you the said Peter Oliver are guilty of the said crime, actor or art and part: In so far as upon the twenty first day of May one thousand eight hundred and twenty six, or on one or other of the days of that month or of April immediately preceding or of June immediately following, you the said Peter Oliver did wickedly and feloniously steal and theftuously take away from the farm at Crighton Moss, in the parish of Crichton and county of Edinburgh, then and now or lately occupied by William Chisholm, farmer there, thirteen sheep or thereby, the property or the lawful possession of the said William Chisolm, or of John Ramage, then herd to the said William Chisholm, and now or lately shepherd to John Watson, now or lately farmer at Esperton, in the parish of Borthwick and county of Edinburgh, and now or lately residing with his father Richard Ramage at Lowburnrig, parish of Borthwick aforesaid; And you the said Peter Oliver having been apprehended and taken before George Tait, Esquire, Sherrif Substitute of the county of Edinburgh did in his presence at Edinburgh, emit and subscribe three several declarations, one on the second, one on the seventh, and one on the twenty second days of June eighteen hundred and twenty six.7

There is still a large amount of archival material from Peter Oliver's trial to transcribe.

Peter was sentenced to death but that was later commuted to transportation for life. Peter was transported on the Bengal Merchant which departed Plymouth on 25 March 1828 and arrived in Hobart on 10 August 1828, the journey taking 138 sailing days. Alex Duthie was the ship’s master and Jas. Skeoch the ship’s surgeon. 170 male convicts were embarked and there were four deaths on the journey.8 Upon arrival in Van Diemen’s Land Peter was subject to the usual processing of convicts which included the drafting of the following description:

  • Name: Peter Oliver
  • N[ative] P[lace]: South Dean, Parish of Roxburgh
  • Trade: Farmer & Ploughman
  • Height without shoes: 5/10 ¾
  • Age: 46
  • Complexion: Fresh
  • Head: Small round, flat at top
  • Hair: Grey
  • Whiskers: Small Bushy, Grey
  • Visage: Oval
  • Forehead: Med[iu]m Broad
  • Eyebrows: Small Bushy
  • Eyes: L[ight] Grey
  • Nose: Long Sharp Points DownUpwards Bridge Broken
  • Mouth: Large
  • Chin: Narrow Pointed
  • Remarks: Large hairy brown mole outside right arm, large scar right side of forehead, long scar on fleshy part left arm
    Med. Finger right hand, large scar top of left foot near mid toe9
Peter Oliver's Convict Description Record

Peter Oliver's Convict Description Record
Archives Office of Tasmania

Peter’s convict conduct record was also drafted and this would in effect become the record of his life as a convict:

Oliver, Peter

Bengal Merchant 1828
Edinburgh 9 July 1827 = Life

Transported for “Sheep Stealing” Gaol report “Not known” connexions “decent” Hulk report “Disorderly” Stated this offence “Sheep Stealing prosr Mr. Chisholm
W[ife] at the head of the Pleasant & Hartwell close Edinburgh
Isabella Oliver, the oldest child 10 yrs old, I last had 7 cows & kept a Butchers shop in Edinburgh W[ife] & 3 ch[ildren]
T.L. 3.32
Oct. 6, 1838 T.L. | Habitual drinking & illtreating & neglecting his family, severely adm[onished] April 3, 1840 T.L. Drunk and disorderly in the streets of Oatlands, 48 ??? & Conf[ined] on B[read] & W[ater] J.W & F.G.T
Conditional Pardon No. 2991 12th May 1841 Extended to any Country Not in Europe 2/8/45 approved 29/9/46

19/8/34 Oatl[ands] 10/7/45 Oat[land]s10

A copy of the convict conduct record follows:

Peter Oliver's Convict Conduct Record

Peter Oliver's Convict Conduct Record
Archives Office of Tasmania

Peter’s wife Isabella Oliver, nee Easton, joined him in September 1830 aboard the Mellish with their three children:

On the 23d,— The transport ship Mellish, Capt. Cowley, from Spithead the 6th June, with 115 female prisoners, 14 free woman & 45 children. Surgeon Superintendent Dr. Lord.11

Fourteen wives, of prisoners in the colony, have arrived by the Mellish, with 45 children, viz. Mrs. F. Hodgson, Mrs. Jane Quested, Mrs. Ann Hughes, Mrs. Eliz. Reader, Mrs. Mary Hurst, Mrs. Sus. Breiver, Mrs. Is. Oliver, Mrs. E. Rathbone, Mrs. J Wilson, Mrs. E. Phillips, Mrs Althorp, Mrs. M. Tucker, Mrs. J. Mackie, Mrs. Verey.12

The passenger manifest included the names of Peter and Isabella’s children.13

  • Mrs. Isabella Oliver
  • Agnes Oliver – 11
  • Isabella Oliver – 8
  • Peter Oliver – 5

On 31 December 1830 Peter was assigned to Thomas Anstey in Oatlands.14 Anstey was a prominent Oatlands resident and local magistrate:

Thomas Anstey (1777-1851), pastoralist, was born on 31 December 1777 at Highercombe near Dulverton, Somerset, England, the son of John Anstey and his wife Elizabeth, née Branscombe. Although bred to the law, he was not attracted to it. He married Mary Turnbull at Edinburgh on 12 March 1811, and then became a partner in a Bond Street house for the sale of printed calicoes. When the firm dissolved, he decided to emigrate and practise agriculture on a large scale. With letters of recommendation from the Colonial Office and influential friends, and with implements, furniture and goods worth more than £8000, he sailed in the Berwick with his wife and three children, arriving at Hobart Town in June 1823. He was given a maximum grant of 2560 acres (1036 ha) which he selected on a tributary of the River Jordan near Oatlands and called Anstey Park. Next year he imported fifty pure bred merinos from the flock of Sir Thomas Seabright, and claimed another maximum grant. He also bought much land and by 1836 had more than 20,000 acres (8094 ha), including some choice pastures that he later planned to irrigate. His fine hospitable home, Anstey Barton, knew no want, but he had much trouble with sheep stealers, Aboriginals and convict servants.15

Although initially based at Oatlands, the Oliver family were ultimately quite mobile in 1830s, based on the baptisms and births of their next three children.

Jane Oliver was born on 1 July 1831 and baptised on 3 August 1831 in Green Ponds, Tasmania. Peter Oliver was recorded as a shepherd on the Wallis property at Oatlands.16

James Oliver was born on 8 February 1833 and baptised on 31 March 1833 in Hobart, Tasmania. Peter Oliver was recorded as a butcher in Elizabeth Street, Hobart.17

Baptism Registration for James Oliver

Baptism Registration for James Oliver
Archives Office of Tasmania

Mary Oliver was born in 1838 in Oatlands, Tasmania.18 No birth or baptism registration has been located to date.

During that time, in February 1832, Peter Oliver was granted his ticket of leave, and this was recorded on his convict conduct record above as T.L. 3/32 (Ticket of Leave, March 1832). The ticket was “an indulgence given at the Lieutenant-Governor’s discretion, which entitled convicts to work for wages, though they were required to report for regular musters.”

GOVERNMENT NOTICE, No.44, Colonial Secretary's Office, Feb. 24,1832.

The Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to grant tickets of leave to the undermentioned persons, on the occasion of the celebration of Her Majesty's birth-day.

Peter Oliver, 80, Bengal Merchant.19

Over the next decade, as indicated by his convict conduct record and other documents, Peter worked as a farm labourer and shepherd, but was noted to frequently neglect his family. His recidivism however was relatively minor, and in May 1841 he was granted a conditional pardon.20

In early 1842 Peter began a series of land purchases that would ultimately comprise the property he would come to name Lilliesleaf, the native place of his wife and the Easton family. The first report was published in February 1842:

Peter Oliver, Oatlands, Somerset, 91 acres, 3 rood, originally Mary Wilson, who conveyed to the applicant, claim dated 29th .November, 1841.- Bounded on the south by 42 chains westerly along a location to Henry Bilton commencing from the York Rivulet and extending to lot 811, on the west by 29 chains northerly along lot fill aforesaid, thence on the north, by 18 chains 30 links easterly, also along that lot to the York Rivulet aforesaid, and thence by that rivulet to the point of commencement.21

Location of Lillies Leaf in Tasmania
Google Maps

A further report was published in June 1842:

Lot 811 purchased from the crown by Peter Oliver, again on the north by 69 chains 30 links easterly along the said Lot 811 and along a location to Mary Wilson (claimed by the said Peter Oliver) to York Rivulet before mentioned, and thence by that rivulet in a north-westerly direction to the point of commencement.22

In early 1844 the Olivers were the victims of marauding bushrangers:

Other prisoners were then arraigned, and the Court adjourned until the following day, when Cope, Reid, Pendergrast, and Reuben, the Port Arthur bushrangers, men whose reckless desperation of character have brought them into a good deal of notoriety, were indicted for a robbery, under arms, at the house of Mr. Allen, of Swan Port, and convicted. Sentence deferred.

James Clegg and Owen Commusky were indicted for a similar offence, under less aggravated circumstances, in the house of Peter Oliver, in the district of Oatlands. They were apprehended by a pursuing party of Police on the following day. Guilty. Sentence-death recorded, with an intimation to the prisoner Clegg that the extreme penalty of the law might be inflicted as regarded him ; and to Commusky, who was younger, and bad been a better conducted convict, that he would be recommended to mercy.23

In September 1844 Isabella and Peter's daughter Isabella sought permission to marry a convict by the name of Edwin Hobson. Isabella Oliver (23) and Edwin Hobson (28) were married on 5 November 1844 in Oatlands, Tasmania.24 Edwin was born about 1816 and had arrived in the colony aboard the Lord Lyndoch.25 Isabella and Edwin's story is told on the Isabella Oliver and Edwin Hobson page.

In September 1845 Peter Oliver was recommended for a pardon.

Comptroller-General's Office, Sept, 1, 1845

It is hereby notified, to the under-mentioned individuals., that it is the Lieutenant-Governor's intention to recommend them to the gracious consideration of Her Majesty the Queen for Pardons available in all countries not in Europe:-

Peter Oliver, Bengal Merchant26

Peter Oliver Jnr. died on 11 July 1845 in Oatlands, Tasmania. He was recorded as aged 20 years and a farmer. The cause of death was “consumption”, an archaic term for tuberculosis. Edwin Hobson, identified as the brother in law of the deceased and living at Spring Hill, registered the event.27

The oldest of Peter and Isobel’s children, Agnes Nancy Oliver, was known to be in a relationship with Nicholas Augustus Woods about 1845 although no marriage ever seems to have been registered. Nicholas was born about 1824 in Ireland, the son of Roger Henry Woods and Ann Olley.28 Agnes and Nicholas would go on to have five children that have been traced. Their story is told on the Agnes Nancy Oliver and Nicholas Augustus Woods page.

Isabella and Peter's fourth child Jane Oliver (20) married James Weeding (24) on 11 September 1851 in Oatlands, Tasmania.29 James was born about 1826/1827 in Oatlands, Tasmania, the son of James Weeding and Frances Lawrence.30 Jane and James would go on to have thirteen children. Their story is told on the Jane Oliver and James Weeding page.

In March 1853 Peter Oliver advertised a caution against trespassers on his various properties:

IN Consequence of having found several of my SHEEP SHOT and DESTROYED by parties hunting and shooting on my Runs, - I hereby caution all persons against hunting or
shooting on my Runs at Lillie's Leaf, Blue Hills, Murdering Tiers, and Eastern Marshes ; as all parties found thereon without leave, whether shooting or under any pretense whatever, will be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. All dogs found will be shot.

Lillie's Leaf, near Oatlands,
28th February, 1853.31

Isabella Oliver, nee Easton, was the sponsor for the emigration of two of her nieces, Isabella Rutherford and her sister Agnes, daughters of Isabella's sister Maney. The girls came to Tasmania from Liverpool on 2nd December 1856 on the Sir W.F. Williams.32 On 2 April 1859 Isabella and Peter's son James was named as the father of a child born to Isabella Rutherford in Oatlands.33 No further relationship developed between the pair who were cousins. In June 1859 Peter Oliver was warning the public about dealing with his son James.

Caution to the Public

BUTCHERS and others are hereby cautioned against purchasing sheep or cattle from James Oliver, son of Peter Oliver, of Lilley's Leaf; Oatlands, without the written authority of Mrs. Isabella Oliver, as the said James Oliver has no power to sell ; and any person buying sheep or cattle from him, after this notice, will be proceeded against according to law.

Lilley's. Leaf, Oatlands,
May 28th 185034

Peter Oliver, the husband of Isobel Easton, died on 19 November 1859 in Parattah, Tasmania. Peter was recorded as aged 79, a farmer, and the cause of death as old age and infirmity. James Oliver, Peter’s son, registered the event.35

DEATHS - At Lillies Leaf, near Oatlands, Mr. Peter Oliver, in the 79th year of his age.36

At his residence, Lillies Leaf, near Oatlands, Mr. Peter OLIVER, in the 79th year of his age. The funeral will take place on Wednesday, the 23rd instant from his son-in-law's, Mr. James Weeding's, at two o'clock. As no circulars will be issued all friends are respectfully requested to attend.37

Isabella (Isobel) Oliver, nee Easton, died on 23 January 1864 in Oatlands, Tasmania. The cause of death was recorded as old age and infirmity.38 Isabella was buried in Oatlands, Tasmania.

On the 23rd inst, in the 72nd year of her age, Isabella, relict of the late Peter Oliver. As no circulars will be issued friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, which will move from Lillys Leaf, her late residence, near Oatlands, this day (Tuesday) at 2 o'clock.39

Mary Oliver married Staniland George Meaburn on 28 September 1867 in the Manse, Scots Church, Melbourne, Victoria.40

MEABURN-OLIVER.-On the 28th inst., at the manse of the Scots Church, Collins-street, Melbourne, by the Rev. J. Hetherington, Staniland George Meaburn, to Mary, youngest daughter of the late Peter Oliver, of Lillies Leaf, Oatlands, Tasmania.41

Staniland was born on 7 June 1849 in Hobart, Tasmania, the son of John Ambler Meaburn and Amelia Ann Bilton.42 Mary and Staniland would go on to have three children.

Nicholas Augustus Woods died on 29 October 1892, Franklin, Tasmania.43

WOODS.-On October 29, at Franklin, Huon, Nicholas Augustus Woods, aged 72 years. Funeral will leave his late residence for the Congregational Cemetery on Wednesday, at 2.30 p.m.44

Isabella Hobson, nee Oliver, died on 20 November 1896 in Yarram, Victoria at the reported age of 75.45

Jane Weeding, nee Oliver, died on 10 September 1899 in Oatlands, Tasmania.46

WEEDING.—On Sunday, September 10, at Oatlands, Jane, the beloved wife of James Weeding, of "Weedington," in her 68th year. The funeral will leave her late residence at half-past 2 on TUESDAY, the 12th, when friends are respectfully invited to attend.47

Edwin Hobson, the husband of Isabella Oliver, died on 8 May 1901 in Alberton, Victoria at the reported age of 86.48 The death notice for the event reported the date as the 9th:

HOBSON.-On 9th May, at his residence, Riversleigh, Edwin Hobson, beloved (indecipherable, possibly father of) Benj. Hobson, aged 86. A colonist for 54 years.49

James Oliver died on 10 April 1904 in Oatlands, Tasmania.50 James never married.

OLIVER—On April 22, at his sister's residence, Lillies Leaf, Parattah, James Oliver, in his 71st year, after a short and painful illness. Funeral will leave the above address This Day at 3 p.m.51

Staniland George Meaburn, the husband of Mary Oliver, died on 11 December 1905 in New Town, Tasmania, although the state registration of the event has 12 December.52

MEABURN. - On the 11th. inst., at Ulster Lodge, the residence of his sister, Staniland George Meaburn. Interred at Hestercombe.53

Agnes Nancy Woods, nee Oliver, died on 5 May 1906 in Oatlands, Tasmania.54

WOODS. - On May 4, at the residence of her son, Mr. T. woods, Oatlands, Agnes, the relict of the late N. A. Woods, in her 87th year. Funeral This (Monday) Afternoon, at 3 o'clock.55

James Weeding, the husband of Jane Oliver, died on 28 July 1916 in Oatlands, Tasmania.56

WEEDING.-On July 28, 1916, at his late residence, Weedington, Oatlands, James Weeding. In the 89th year of his age. Interred Monday, July 31.57

Mary Meaburn, nee Oliver, died on 10 April 1925 in Oatlands, Tasmania.58

MEABURN. - On April 10, 1925, at her late residence, Lillies Leaf, Parattah, Mary Meaburn, in the 87th year of her age. Funeral will move from her late residence on Sunday next, at 3 p.m., for Presbyterian Cemetery, Oatlands.59